By BETTY IRELAND

CHARLESTON -- I am an eighth generation West Virginian who loves this state and wants nothing more than to make it better for future generations.

The conservative values that guide me everyday come from my parents who worked hard, made sacrifices for their children, respected their neighbors, and didn't expect government to bail them out when the going got tough.

People are concerned about their jobs, the next mortgage payment, their children's education, and the quality of life for their family. But even while facing these serious challenges, West Virginians still have optimism.

The people of this great state tell me that they want a leader to get government out of the way so they can unleash their greatest potential. They want a leader who understands that government doesn't have all the answers and can't fix all our problems.

They want a leader who wakes up every day working to make West Virginia more competitive so we can attract more jobs and protect the ones we have.

Here are some ideas to get West Virginia working again:

* Train The Workforce -- Companies and small businesses are looking for trained workers who have the skill set to do the jobs. Many of the new jobs in mining and drilling require only a few weeks of training to prepare for careers that can out-earn even the typical new college grad. Vocational training is swift and inexpensive, and it can solve our education gap in the short-term while we find solutions that help our children pass basic math and English tests. We must also educate our workforce on a drug-free workplace that ensures safety and quality of life for all workers.

* Market Our Workers -- West Virginians are known for their hard work, and we need to market our strengths to new businesses that might want to come to West Virginia. Instead of the Unemployment Office, the state can be the "Employment Office." A clearinghouse of workers, available jobs, credentials and training would be an easy one-stop approach for employers seeking workers and those seeking work.

* No New Taxes & Fees On Employers -- If we want to make the economy stronger, we can't make things worse. It needs to be cheaper to do business here than in all our surrounding states. That means immediately ending job-killing taxes that are unique in West Virginia, like the Franchise Tax. That means eliminating the Food Tax on our families. That means capping our Gasoline Tax so our border counties are competitive and our citizens can spend more money here on goods.

* Technology -- We used new technology to make the Secretary of State's office more efficient and competitive. We need to do the same to improve education and economic development. Thanks to the Internet and satellite technology, just because a student lives in a rural county doesn't mean he/she can't take an advanced math class or language class only offered at a high school in Morgantown or Charleston. We must increase broadband coverage to offer online classes and satellite feeds to give additional choices to parents and students no matter where they live in our state.

These are just a few of my ideas. I'll be sharing more ways to get our state moving forward in the weeks ahead.

If you have an idea, I would love to hear about it. Just send me an email at info@votebettyireland.com or visit my website at www.VoteBettyIreland.com.

My life experiences as a teacher, entrepreneur, business executive, and Secretary of State have prepared me to meet our most pressing challenges, the most important of which is job creation. I'm ready to get West Virginia working again.

Ireland is the former Secretary of State and is a Republican candidate for governor.

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